The sportsmen/women who live in this tropical wonderland we call Florida are twice blessed. Our waters are teaming with fish, and our fields are loaded with game. Why are we so proud to be Florida natives? Who wouldn't be? Our fishing and hunting seasons can both be enjoyed twelve months out of the year. Yes! even hunting. The mighty Florida wild hog, the monster with an attitude, all bad, has no season limitations. My daughter, Dee, and I love to hunt this toothy beast. Check out Dee's picture in the June edition of Florida's own Woods'nWater magazine:
Come July 23, Dee and I will once again be visiting Cedar Key's Tiger Island Outfitters. Hosted by our very good friends, Tracy & Crichton Allen, we will be in hot pursuit of the Florida wild hog. In the mean time, it's fishing the fabulous Florida Middle Grounds. One thing about fishing the Grounds, you never know what to expect. Only one way to find out, let's go see.
Friday, June 14, three P.M. Forty five adventurers, men and women who really take their fishing seriously, board the Florida Fisherman ll, Hubbard's Marina, Madeira Beach, Florida, for a 39 hour excursion deep into the very heart of the Middle Grounds. We are welcomed by long time resident chef, Ms. Tammy-Jersey girl- Koota. Welcome to our home away from home for the next thirty nine hours:
When Will speaks, we listen:
Bunk time, but first let's not forget that famous Chef Tammy's meat ball cheeses sub. We want to be at our very best. One A.M., Captain Garett Hubbard sounds the alarm, battle stations! Up, and at um! We are on a mission. The bite is not fast, but look at these beauties:
We are hungry, our chef to the rescue. Those hot off the grill ham and cheese snacks are really appreciated:
Sun up, let's move out to two hundred feet, a little West of the Grounds, where the big boys play:
Philip, that's a real beauty:
Fishing next to me, spot # 24, we are honored to have Mister Chuck Patterson, Mooresville, Indiana. Mister Patterson owns Patterson Driveline & Machine:
Chuck, that's one heck of a vermilion snapper:
Man, that Indiana town of 6.35 square miles can really be proud of Chuck:
Let's have an early lunch. Tammy, have anything good? How does potato salad, and beer batter dipped fish sound? Tammy, New Jersey can be very proud of their native daughter, I know we are:
Not bad, not bad at all. And we are just getting started:
Julio, see why we appreciate Tammy so much?
Ivan, that's a beauty:
Mister Mike Fine, that's one heck of an American red:
We now have a good mangrove snapper catch and still ongoing:
Philip, we can be thankful we have Jon from the FWC on board:
Those darn gags are everywhere. Next month begins pay-back-time:
We all know the importance of real on the water data in the management of our fishery. The very hard working, dedicated, biologist of the FWC accompany the Florida Fisherman ll on a very regular basis. Thank you Jon & Company, thank you FWC for all you do:
We can do our part in helping by reporting any caught tagged fish. The FWC number to call is on the tag:
Craig, hope you are entered in the jack pot:
Now there is a real black grouper. We do not see too many of them. They are unusual:
Speaking of unusual, Julio, let's see that African pompano:
Unusual once again. Even Will, the long time first mate on the Florida Fisherman ll, says this is only the second lion fish he has ever seen. We are told they are very detrimental to our reefs; do not return one to the water alive:
Outriggers on a head boat, now that's unusual. Mister Eddie Sumrall, bet here is that you know how to use those long poles:
Eddie, that wahoo is the catch of the day:
Mister Sumrall, show us the rig you used to land your trophy:
Sundown over the Florida Middle Grounds, Absolutely priceless:
Tammy, we have been battling the monsters of the Grounds for almost twenty hours. Hope you have something good to eat. Let's start out with a garden fresh salad, and then the show stopper, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and the best salisbury steak imaginable. Jersey girl, you are the best!
The evening mangrove snapper bit is very slow. Non-the-less, we have a fine catch. Let's hit the bunks & enjoy the long ride home.
Now that's a fine catch. Eddie, let's see that mutton:
Sir, you can be proud of that black grouper. We see very few of them in this area:
Who will be in the money, the big money? Captain Garett, and Captain Dylan Hubbard are really proud of that mutton:
Now that's snapper to be proud of:
Captain Garett Hubbard congratulates Eddie & Craig, the jack pot winners:
Totals for trip as provided by Captain Dylan Hubbard:
250 mangrove snapper, 75 American reds, 2 African pompano, 1 wahoo, 1 mutton snapper, numerous red grouper, 1 black grouper, and many vented & released gags.
Why are we so proud to be Florida natives? Because we have had the privilege of enjoying this tropical wonderland for a live time. We are proud of our state, and our woods'nwaters. Want to fish & hunt twelve months out of the year? Join us!
Catch all the Middle Grounds action in this short action packed video. (click on the link)